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  • CAS Upholds Olympics Ban on Russia


    (ATR) A Court of Arbitration for Sport panel unanimously agrees that the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) is non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code but reduces the penalties imposed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) for the violations.

    CAS cut the length of the WADA ban in half. (CAS)
    The three-person CAS panel, in handing down its ruling on Dec. 17, cut the length of an international sports ban on Russia in half, from four years to two.

    The shortened ban still means Russia’s flag and anthem will not be allowed at Tokyo 2020, Beijing 2022 and any other world championships through Dec. 16, 2022. That would also include the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, should Russia qualify for the tournament.

    Russian athletes who meet specific guidelines may compete under a neutral flag, as they did at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

    Russia will also not be allowed to host or bid to host any international events during the two-year period.

    “This Panel has imposed consequences to reflect the nature and seriousness of the non-compliance [to the WADC] and to ensure that the integrity of sport against the scourge of doping is maintained,” the CAS panel, composed of Judge Mark L. Williams SC (Australia), President, Prof. Luigi Fumagalli (Italy) and Dr. Hamid G. Gharavi (France/Iran), said in its concluding remarks.

    The members also addressed their decision to lessen the sanctions on Russia.

    “The consequences which the Panel has decided to impose are not as extensive as those sought by WADA. This should not, however, be read as any validation of the conduct of RUSADA or the Russian authorities. In making its orders, the Panel is limited by the powers granted under the applicable law, in particular the WADC and the ISCCS. It has considered matters of proportionality and, in particular, the need to effect cultural change and encourage the next generation of Russian athletes to participate in clean international sport.”

    The CAS decision is coming under criticism. (FIFA)
    The reasoning does not pass muster with the lawyer for Russian whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov, the former Moscow laboratory head whose testimony helped get Russia suspended.

    “The decision by CAS to effectively ‘split the baby’ is nonsensical and undeserved,” said Jim Walden.

    “Despite overwhelming proof of corruption, doping fraud and obstruction of justice, including a brazen attempt to falsely incriminate Dr. Rodchenkov through fabricated evidence, CAS has once again proven itself unwilling and unable to meaningfully deal with systematic and long-standing criminality by Russia. CAS reduced the ban by half, allowing Russian athletes to participate in international sporting events anyway, and in effect upheld an already-limited ban in name only.”

    United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) CEO Travis Tygart called the decision “a significant loss” to WADA and clean athletes.

    USADA CEO Travis Tygart (U.S. Senate TV)
    “WADA and the IOC have manipulated and mishandled this sordid Russian state-doping affair from Day 1 and have put politics over principle once again. In addition to many other loopholes, this decision expressly gives IOC members from Russia special treatment and exempts them from any consequence for their bad acts that robbed sport and clean athletes.

    “For years, athletes have pleaded with WADA for reform and to hold Russia accountable for carrying out the most egregious doping fraud in the history of sport. Throughout the investigation and now with this weak outcome, it’s clear that WADA – even with new leadership and promises of change – has told athletes that it did not hear them and that they don’t matter. Russia has claimed victory today and, for them and their ability to corrupt global sport, deceive the world, and cheat the global anti-doping system, they are right,” concluded Tygart.

    WADA president Witold Bańka, while saying his organization is "pleased to have won this landmark case" admitted that WADA is "disappointed that the CAS Panel did not endorse each and every one of our recommended consequences for the four-year period we requested.

    "We believe they were proportionate and reasonable, but ultimately WADA is not the judge but the prosecutor and we must respect the decision of the Panel. These are still the strongest set of consequences ever imposed on any country for doping-related offences and the award clearly endorses the resolute, process-driven approach taken by WADA in dealing effectively with this case," Bańka said.

    The IOC, in a statement, said it "has taken note of the CAS decision" and would "consult with the International Federations and the International Paralympic Committee with a view to having a consistent approach in the implementation of the award" for competitions within the Olympic Movement.

    WADA in December 2019 imposed sanctions on Russia for manipulating and falsifying doping data from RUSADA’s Moscow laboratory. An appeal by Russia to CAS, which was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic, was held both in-person and virtually from Nov. 2 to Nov. 5.

    RUSADA was previously suspended for what has been determined as a vast state-supported doping system revealed in a 2015 WADA-commissioned report. Russia was reinstated by WADA in September 2018 with one of the conditions being full disclosure of doping data from the Moscow lab.

    Russia has been banned from competing as a country in athletics since 2015 due to doping offenses and is currently working with World Athletics to be reinstated into the federation. World Athletics could allow up to 10 Russian athletes to compete as neutrals at Tokyo 2020 if the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) makes enough progress in the ongoing process.

    Here is the press release from CAS.

    Written by Gerard Farek

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